|1850 map of Flaggtown.|
And what about Flagtown? A popular misconception states that Flagtown derived its name from the practice of displaying a flag at the station to signal an oncoming train to stop for passengers. That's a cute story - one that some old-timers swear by - and Hillsborough did have at least one "flag" station, Roycefield. The problem with that is Flagtown was named long before any trains rolled through our town, perhaps fifty years earlier! Not only that, but Flagtown isn't even where you think it is!
Flagtown, originally spelled "Flaggtown", was named for 18th century Hillsborough resident and landowner Jacob Flagg. Around 1800, Flagg owned property near where the YMCA is located today, at the corner of South Branch Road and East Mountain Road. Two centuries ago, this was the intersection of the original Amwell Road and the road to South Branch. By 1850, this crossroads village boasted at least three stores, a post office, a school near the corner of Mill Lane, and a hotel.
The 1860 Farm Map of Hillsborough also places Flaggtown at the crossroads - and shows the hotel, as well as a store in the same spot, and in the same configuration, as today's Corner Store.
Then the railroads came. The Lehigh Valley Railroad and the South Branch of the Jersey Central each had stations near Flaggtown. Since the tracks did not actually pass through Flaggtown, the station area was named Flaggtown Station. The original Flaggtown was designated as Flaggtown Post Office to differentiate it from the new Flaggtown, and for many years they existed as two distinct villages, in much the same way as Neshanic and Neshanic Station coexist today.
In January 1878, in order to remedy the confusion caused by having two nearby post offices containing the name Flaggtown - Flaggtown and Flaggtown Station - The US Postal Service renamed the Flaggtown Post Office to Frankfort, effectively erasing the historic village of Flaggtown from the map. When the map below was drawn by the United States Geological Survey in 1898, the original Flaggtown had been renamed Frankfort, a name still in use by one of the housing developments in the area today. Flaggtown Station lost its second "g" and became plain old Flagtown.
So, the next time anyone asks you about Hillsborough history, you'll be ready with at least three answers, Wills Hills, the Earl of Hillsborough, the Indian-named Neshanic River, and Jacob Flagg.